The laboratory that runs tests for COVID-19 at the Dr D Orlando Smith Hospital now has the capability of conducting more than 500 tests daily.
Minister of Health Carvin Malone made the disclosure during a community meeting held at the grounds of the Elmore Stoutt High School on Wednesday, January 13.
The minister said a number of additional works were undertaken at the facility to increase the lab’s testing capacity. He said this will allow for the continuous flow of results to persons more promptly.
“We were entrusted with over 40 to 45 million dollars to get all of these facilities and programmes readied and carried out throughout the territory — no district being left behind, no person being left behind in terms of what we had to do,” the minister stated.
“We have the capacity now to conduct over 500 tests a day. Now this is important because we are also responsible for looking in terms of any exemptions that people might need in entering with the protocols to actually reenter the territory,” he added.
24 to 48 hours required for return of results
Malone also advised persons taking the COVID test that 24 to 48 hours is required before the results are returned.
He said some persons were observed taking the test mere hours before it was needed and this resulted in unrealistic return timelines not being met.
“One of the common stalling points has been the ability of people to get the COVID-19 results back under five, six and seven days. In most cases, we’ve been able to do it within 24 hours, now where we do this, people would have their swabs done at 5 o’clock in the afternoon sometimes and they want it back by nine o’clock the other day. So it makes it look as if we are falling behind,” he explained.
Active cases expected to decline to 15
In a January 11 COVID-19 dashboard update, the lab had tested a total of 16,204 samples from 16,190 persons. The territory now has a total of 19 active cases with 12 on Virgin Gorda, six on Tortola, and one on vessel out at sea.
According to Malone, some of the active case numbers are expected to decline very soon due to a number of recoveries which are anticipated.
The minister also explained why a decision was made to add an analysis section to the government’s COVID-19 dashboard update.
“I get a daily report as to the number of cases that were rendered at the laboratory each day. Today, we are up to 19 active cases and by the time the report is done for yesterday’s and today’s work, it will be down to 15. So we have a number of positive cases added, a number of recoveries added and we are keeping a close monitor,” Malone said.
“If you look at the dashboard that we presently have, you would find that what we’ve done is expanded the information on there so that you have a better understanding as to what Cabinet and entire caucus and the government and the House of Assembly have to look at when making decision as to whether or not we are ready for what is ahead of us,” he further explained.
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